There has been a fair bit of press on the future of the Fly by Night Musicians Club (the Fly) so I thought it might be worth giving my(and informally a Freo Council) perspective on where it is at.

For almost 30 years the Fly has been putting out great music in the 100 plus year old Artillery Drill Hall that is now managed by the National Trust.

The Fly’s lease is up in September this year and the National Trust have decided to go out to Expression of Interest (EOI) to see whether there are better options than the Fly in that venue.

Obviously the Fremantle Council was very concerned about the possibility of losing as important cultural organisation like Fly and we drafted a letter to the Fly expressing our concerns around the timing and potential impact of the EOI process.

The reality is the Fremantle Council has almost no decision making power in this process and only some influence but we have tried to use that influence to ensure a couple of things:

  1. The Fly as one of Freo’s few remaining and long-lasting cultural organisations has an on-going home in Fremantle
  2. The Artillery Drill Hall is continued to be used for music and cultural purposes (as I have already publically said: my fear is that it is turned into a furniture shop or the like!)

Ideally the Fly should be able to stay where they are and continue to expand on the good work they are already doing. But if the National Trust needs rents closer to a commercial rate to maintain the property etc then this may be prove to be challenging for the financial sustainability of the Fly.

So if they do not win the EOI then I believe we need to make sure the Fly can continue as seamlessly as possible in Fremantle and I guess this is where the Council can assist as we own a range of properties that we could lease to the Fly for less that commercial rates. The old Kulcha site is one that has been raised already.

Another option may be a partnership with the Fly and a commercial music operator like Sunset Events. I have encouraged the Fly board and Sunset Events to meet with each other to see if a joint option is worth exploring. Hard to know if there is enough common ground but as a general rule I think creative and surprising partnerships are always worth having a go at.

The Council (I expect) would look favourably on a grant to the Fly for some of its community/youth programs too.

Of course a range of other music and non-music organisations may put in EOIs to the National Trust as well so we will have to wait and see at the end of June when this process comes to a close

As for the Drill Hall, I am comforted by the National Trust wanting to see the social and cultural heritage of that place continue. I think that makes my furniture shop fears somewhat more remote!

These are challenging times for existing arts and cultural organisations in Fremantle. Deckchair, Kulcha and now the Fly have all been hit hard by declining state government funding but also changing audiences and their expectations. But where there is crisis there is opportunity and I know that everyone on the Fremantle Council is determined to use our little bit of influence to ensure the Fly survives for at least another 30 years in Freo.


About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor


  1. dalols says:

    The whole “furniture shop” scenario concerns me, Brad… where did that come from…?
    I can only hope that common sense will rule in this matter… though, I have had high hopes of the Trust in the past, and they have been found wanting… They are, perhaps, poorly named…

  2. Matthew bale says:

    I would be very keen to surrgest the many6160 project as an interim venue option. We have huge potential for events.

    Please call anytime – 0470476821

    Kindest regards. Matt

  3. freoishome says:

    How about Deckchair, Kulcha and the Fly putting in a joint bid with some Council backing?

  4. freoishome says:

    Are CUSP still working with you to find a small home, very different type of occupant, but not likely to clash with the entertainment hours of the other groups.

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